Allied Warships

HMS Griffin (H 31)

Destroyer of the G class

HMS Griffin prewar

NavyThe Royal Navy
PennantH 31 
Built byVickers Armstrong (Barrow-in-Furness, U.K.): Parsons 
Ordered5 Mar 1934 
Laid down20 Sep 1934 
Launched15 Aug 1935 
Commissioned6 Jun 1936 
End service20 Mar 1943 

Transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy as HMCS Ottawa on 20 March 1943. HMCS Ottawa was decommissioned on 31 October 1945 and scrapped in January 1946.

Career notesBecame the Canadian destroyer Ottawa (H 31)

Commands listed for HMS Griffin (H 31)

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1Lt.Cdr. John Lee-Barber, RN10 Jan 193919 Nov 1941
2Capt. Hugh St. Lawrence Nicolson, DSO, RN19 Nov 194124 May 1942
3Lt. Paul Markham Whatley, RN24 May 1942Oct 1942
4Lt.Cdr. Arthur Nichol Rowell, RNOct 1942late 1942

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Notable events involving Griffin include:

21 Nov 1939
Around 2100 hours the British destroyers HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, RN with Capt. G.E. Creasy, MVO, RN aboard), HMS Gipsy (Lt.Cdr. N.J. Crossley, RN), HMS Keith (Cdr. H.T.W. Pawsey, OBE, RN), HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. G.B. Kingdon, RN) and the Polish destroyer Grom (Lt.Cdr. A. Hulewicz, ORP) were ordered to leave Harwich and establish a patrol in the North Sea. Shortly before that, a German He 59 seaplane dropped two magnetic mines nearby, but there was no time for searching. HMS Gipsy hit one of those mines which tore her into two pieces. Most of the survivors were picked up by HMS Griffin and HMS Keith. (1)

18 Dec 1939
The British destroyers HMS Grenville (Capt. G.E. Creasy, MVO, RN), HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall-A'Deane, RN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, RN) and the Polish destroyer Blyskawica (Lt.Cdr. J. Umecki, ORP) formed the escort of two British minelayers which conducted a night operation off the German coast. Mines were laid between Sylt Island and the harbour of Emden. (1)

13 Jul 1940
Shortly after leaving Dover, escorting a convoy HMS Vanessa (Lt.Cdr. E.A. Stocker, DSC, RN) was damaged by near misses during a German air attack. Vanessa's propellers were damaged and put out of action by a bomb exploding 6 yards astern. Vanessa was towed to Sheerness by HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, RN). Repairs to Vanessa were completed on 4 November 1940.

8 Aug 1940
HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) picks up 766 survivors from the British troop transport Mohamed Ali El-Kebir that was torpedoed and sunk the previous day by German U-boat U-38 about 230 nautical miles west of Bloody Foreland in position 55°22'N, 13°18'W.

20 Oct 1940
The Italian submarine Lafolé was sunk north off Melilla in position 36°00'N, 03°00'W by the British destroyers HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN), HMS Hotspur (Cdr. H.F.H. Layman, DSO, RN) and HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN).

7 Nov 1940
HMS Berwick (Capt. G.L. Warren, RN) refuelled at Gibraltar then left for Alexandria in company of battleship HMS Barham (Capt G.C. Cooke, RN), light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. H. Hickling, RN) and the destroyers HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN), HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall A'Deane, DSC, RN) and HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN).

Media links

British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman

Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.


  1. Personal communication

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